Acting on a request from some health researchers in the U.S., we've been trying for the last 24 hours to improve SickCity's algorithms to be able to track new developments of the swine flu outbreak.
After initially being flooded with tweets about the swine flu *media event* as opposed to actual flu outbreaks, the tool has now gotten to be a lot stronger - we're now able to ignore a large percentage of tweets that are about the media event, to focus on tweets about actual sickness. We're also tracking better terms - for instance instead of 'headcold', we're tracking 'fever'. We still have to make it stronger, however - among other things we have to get better at sniffing out false positives (e.g. "spring fever" should not trigger alert for "fever"). We also still have to flush out all of the false positives we have accumulated in the past 24 hours - the site right now looks like a gigantic flu outbreak happened all over the world simultaneously. That will be fixed some time today.
What we really need right now is translation of terms into other languages. All of the countries in SickCity are tracking terms in english ("fever", "sore throat", "flu", etc). If anyone can help translate these terms and others into other languages, that would be a big help. We've set up a wiki page where you can do this. Should only take one minute to do.
Anyone else wanting to pitch in to make SickCity more accurate (especially anyone good at term extraction and elimination of false positives) please join the SickCity Development Group and post a note.